Pondering Poi Dog: Place and racial identification of multiracial Native Hawaiians

Shawn Malia Kana'iaupuni, Carolyn A. Liebler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Given the very large proportion of Hawaiians who are multiracial, our research examines Native Hawaiian identification in mixed-race Hawaiian families. We use the 1990 US Census, which affords a unique look at racial identification because multiracial people were required to choose one race over another. The results show support for our argument that place plays a central role in Pacific identity processes, illustrated in this case among Hawaiians. We find that strong ties to Hawai'i - the spiritual and geographic home of the Hawaiian population - are vital to the intergenerational transmission of Hawaiian identification in both continental and island multiracial families. We compare our results for multiracial Native Hawaiians to prior studies of American Indians and Asian Americans to identify any general patterns in correlates of racial identification choices. In each group, we find that familial and geographic relationships to the cultural and ancestral lands are strongly linked to racial identification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)687-721
Number of pages35
JournalEthnic and Racial Studies
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2005


  • Culture
  • Multiracial
  • Native Hawaiian
  • Place
  • Racial identification
  • Racial identity


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